Thursday, October 1, 2015

I Stand With Planned Parenthood

I worked for Planned Parenthood.

I’ve been a patient at Planned Parenthood.

I’ve taken friends to Planned Parenthood.

I am grateful I was given the opportunity to be a part of an organization that has given so much to so many.

I’m proud to have been part of an organization that delivers some of the highest quality health care I’ve seen. And delivers it with care and compassion.

The care Planned Parenthood delivers is both stellar and comprehensive.

While I worked at Planned Parenthood, I helped women access treatment for cervical cancer, helped even more women access treatment to prevent cervical cancer, taught folks how to use condoms, called Children’s Services on parents that were abusing a patient, helped a client understand how chlamydia was transmitted (definitely not the way she walked in thinking it had happened), held the hand of women aged 13 to 40+ as they had an abortion that they had carefully considered and chose with clarity, provided clear options to other women as they wrestled with their decision about their pregnancy including referrals to adoption and parenting resources and supported them in whatever their decision was, stood firm as a parent screamed at me when I refused to allow our clinic to provide their teenager with an abortion she didn’t want, provided countless women with the information they needed in order to choose when, or if they would get pregnant, helped women problem solve how to leave their abuser,  or access prenatal care and WIC.

In Minnesota, doing this meant walking through a picket line every day. Even the days we weren’t providing abortion services. It meant not fighting back when one of the protestors screamed at my best friend and her son as they dropped me off for work in the morning, “At least you didn’t kill that baby”.  It became normal to see the doctor take off her bullet proof vest and hang it by her coat when she walked in the door. On my way home from work, I peeked under my car and in my tailpipe before I got in to make sure there wasn’t a bomb, every single day.

Working for PP meant photocopying frozen moldy clinic records after anti-abortion people tried to burn down one of our clinics. This clinic that was burned in Brainerd, Minnesota provided only birth control, STI testing and cancer screening services.

It meant being on a first name basis with our local ATF and FBI agents.

In Maryland, it meant squeezing enough money out of our budget to provide the services our patient’s needed. Any time the local police felt there was a threat I had to get to work early so that they could inspect the facility with a bomb dog. That clinic had been burned in a different location. The police took it personally. They weren’t going to let it happen again. I opened the mail alone in a separate room with door closed wearing gloves and a mask because some lovely person had decided it was fun to mail suspicious powders to women’s clinic. Any suspicious package was thrown away. Because not only did clinics like ours get anthrax threats. A number of other frightening things had been sent to women’s clinics in the mail. Did you send our clinic staff cookies? I’ll never know. If I didn’t know it was coming, it went in the trash.

Today, not much is different. The threats just come in different clothes. A presidential candidate in blue skirt suit lying about a video. Legislators working diligently to remove funding from the organization best equipped to deliver desperately needed services to women across the country. Legislators passing law after law designed specifically to reduce access to abortion services. It's the same old tired, misogynist song.

This war, this fight for power and control over our bodies is about a group of people who do not want women, especially poor women or women of color, to have access to the services we need to take control of their lives. Women, women’s sexuality and our control over our own reproductive choices, is seen as a radical threat to both the patriarchy and the theocracy all too many of these politicians want to live in.

I stand with Planned Parenthood. Because I stand with women.


No comments: